Chapter 12 - Lights in the Sky
Despite all the evidence, it takes a long time to persuade Spike that both Zara and I are fine. Zara was completely unaware that there was anything wrong, sleeping through the whole thing, and I did more damage to a perfectly good t-shirt than I did to me, but it's obvious he was scared for us. In fact, the effort it took to get him to go to work the next day had to be experienced to be believed. Honestly, if there had been some way he could have hidden us upstairs at the club, then that's what he'd have done. He did suggest it, but I pointed out that loud music probably wasn't the best way to persuade Zara to sleep.
Still, when he got home he had to do an inch by inch check of me, so there were some compensations.
Despite all I've said though, I was a bit shaken by what happened. I've had vampires outside my front door before, and the knowledge that they couldn't come in without an invitation was always a comfort. Even knowing that my mom and my sister were vulnerable, I coped with it. Now, with Zara, the idea leaves me scared. It wasn't a problem at the time - I was too busy doing what I needed to do, but afterwards, when I'd persuaded Morwenna she could go back to the main house, and before Spike got back, I had a major case of nerves.
The police came to talk to me the next day. I told them what I'd decided to - the truth minus any mention of vampires and Slayage, and got from them the information that the incident I saw wasn't the only one, although they wouldn't be more specific and I don't know if they're making the link between the other killing I know about or something else. When I asked about the two who were injured here, the news was, honestly, better than I expected. The girl had already been released, but the boy was still in the hospital - in intensive care. I take the fact that he's not already dead as a good sign, and I'm relieved.
By the time Sunday dawns, the knowledge that Spike has two days off is welcome. We get up to a bright, warm morning - the sort of day where you feel there just couldn't be any evil in the world. The weather alone lifts both our moods. Whatever we might have said to the other one, we were both seriously spooked by what happened, but once we've seen the weather, we decide to go out for the day. Spike's keen to take us to Tintagel Castle which has links with the legend of King Arthur, and to be honest, the history/legend is rather vague to me, but I really don't care. We pack up everything we'll need for Zara, some sandwiches and drinks, sun block, towels, the list seems endless, and as I look at the pile assembled at the door, I've got serious concerns as to whether or not it'll all fit in the car. It does, though, and we set off in good spirits.
And it's a lovely day. The journey takes a couple of hours with Spike keeping to the country roads pretty much the whole way. The differences from what I'm used to are even more apparent on a journey like that. Where I come from, even quiet, narrow roads are open and you can see all around. Here, with the earth hedges that are the normal way of fencing off the fields, it can sometimes seem oppressively dark even on a bright day. Then again, sometimes you come to an area where there are no tall trees growing on or near the hedges, so it's bright and cheerful, and the earth banks themselves are covered in green grass and bright wild flowers.
The castle is beautiful. It's so ruined that there's actually not a lot of wall left, but the view from up there over the water is breathtaking. This part of the coast is rugged, with sheer cliffs falling into the water. We picnic, and when we've had our fill of looking, we move on, eventually coming to a town called Bude.
We wander into some stores, and I find myself looking at little gifts for the guys back home. There's a lot of edible stuff - clotted cream fudge and so on, but I go for things that are less perishable. After a lot of thought, I settle for a souvenir t-shirt for Xander, and a crystal witch for Willow which makes me smile - right down to the green eyes that remind me of my friend. Giles is harder because, well, he's probably been here, but in the end I settle for a book on the history and legends of King Arthur with thoughts that at least I'll be able to learn a bit if I get bored. Then, we buy ice cream, and eat it in the sunshine, and when it's finished, we move on, looking for a quieter beach where we can just enjoy the weather.
It's late when we get back to the cottage. I think Spike got a little burned despite me telling him to use sun block, because his nose is a little red. Zara sleeps the whole way back, apparently exhausted by all the fresh air.
Of course, she wakens when I lift her out of the car, so I take the opportunity to get her bathed and fed while Spike unpacks the car. She falls asleep again while she's feeding, so I put her to bed and go downstairs to see how Spike's doing.
He's got coffee brewing, and I realise with a yawn that I should be choosing between joining Zara in sleep or drinking some. I decide on the latter, as a chance to spend some evening time with Spike. The one problem with the hours he works is that we don't get as much 'just us' time as we would if he had a daytime job. Still, it also means that he gets to spend more awake time with her, so it works out well in the end.
We settle down to watch some TV - something called Monarch of the Glen - but I'm really not watching. I'm just enjoying the comfort of sitting with him, his arm around my shoulder. In fact when, despite the coffee, I start to feel sleepy, I move, putting my head in his lap and my feet up on the other cushion of the sofa. He runs his fingers through my hair, and I come to the conclusion that, for once, life is just about right.
Our evening ends early when we decide to go to bed, making love before settling to sleep.
We're wakened by Zara around three - her exhaustion after her day out apparently over. She feeds, but seems unhappy. She's not dirty, not too hot or cold, but there's something, and I worry what it could be. She's generally such a contented baby that I can't help being concerned. Spike is too. Normally, when I get up to feed her in the night, Spike goes back to sleep quickly, but tonight he's wide awake with me. It's not that she's crying all the time - more that she keeps drifting off and then being wakened by something. There's no sign that she's in pain, and I'm really quite baffled.
Spike offers to take her for a walk around the cottage to try to settle her, and I agree, leaving him with her for a few moments. I consider going back to bed but realise that I couldn't sleep if I did, so I follow them downstairs.
Spike's walking round the living room in the dark, holding a fretting Zara.
"How's she doing?" I ask.
"I reckon she's ok. Maybe a bit of wind or colic or something. She's not running a temperature or anything."
"You sure? We could call a doctor."
"Sure as I can be," he says.
"You want something to drink?" I ask.
"Cup of tea'd be lovely, Pet," he answers.
Here was me thinking orange juice with the, you know, 'open the fridge, get a glass and pour' effort going in, and he wants tea which involves a whole higher level of complexity. Still, I put the kettle on and find the teabags.
From here, I can't hear Zara at all and I hope that she's finally managed to fall asleep. I make the tea, and as I put the teabags in the trash, I glance out of the window, and I'm surprised by the amount of light coming from the direction of the main house. I call Spike, and he joins me in the kitchen. It's not as if we can see the main house really - there's too much greenery between the two buildings. It's just that the whole sky seems to be bright - as if they're burning every light in the place and that seems unlikely given the time.
"You ok to take the Bit?" he asks, handing Zara to me. I take her as I'd been planning to do anyway while he drank his tea, and he disappears, returning a few seconds later in his jeans and a t-shirt.
"I'm going to take a look. If something's going on up there, I want to know what it is."
"I'll come too," I offer.
"Safer to keep Zara here," he argues. "I won't be long, and I'll take the phone."
Zara's finally asleep, but on impulse, I put her into her buggy rather than back upstairs, and I go and throw on some clothes too. I'm feeling edgy without understanding why, but I've been the Slayer long enough to trust my instincts.
About five minutes after Spike leaves, I hear the phone ring and I run to it.
"Don't argue, just get out of there," Spike tells me. "Make for the grounds - the formal gardens. Now."
I don't even take time to hang up after a quick answer, just rush to Zara and push her to the door. Once outside, I move away from the house quickly, keeping to the paths because of the stroller, but running.
The formal gardens are closer to the main house than our cottage, but there are paths throughout and I've become very familiar with all of them since we've been here. Well, I've had a lot of time to spend here, and with the long evenings, it's been a pleasant way to end the day to take Zara for a walk before bedtime.
I hear him coming before I see him, and I might even have been wary if I hadn't been sure it was Spike. The look of relief on his face is clear even by the light of only a three-quarter moon, and he sweeps the buggy up into his arms and we run together to the gardens where there are about twenty or so people milling about. Morwenna sees us and rushes towards us.
"Oh my dears, it's terrible. I hardly know how it's happened, but we're going to have to work hard to put it right. I'll be able to tell you more later, I expect, but I need to go and work with the others," she gushes.
She rushes away again, leaving me entirely uninformed as to what's happening. I turn to Spike looking for an explanation.
"Got to the house in time to see some lights going on inside. Those lights weren't coming from the windows, more from the sky. Don't rightly know what it was, but it looked like a battle royal. Rang the doorbell and Morwenna told me to get you and Zara up here quick as I could, so I called, then I ran to meet you."
Whatever it was that we'd seen in the sky earlier seems to have stopped now. At least, there's none of it visible now. The women Morwenna joined when she left us are now standing in a circle and holding hands. There's an eerie silence all around, and the power emanating from that circle all but makes my hair stand on end.
I glance down at Zara as she reclines in her stroller, sound asleep. I'm just grateful all the panic didn't upset her again.
And then I feel it. The power's wavering, and I glance up at the sky to see the light show starting again but this time it must surely be many times brighter than the last time I saw it. I look over at the others, and judging by the look of strain on the faces there, they're working very hard. Spike's arm winds itself around my waist and he pulls me close.
I don't know how long that struggle lasts, but finally, the light show subsides, and the women break from their circle, each looking more exhausted than her neighbour.
Morwenna spots us, and starts to walk towards us but she seems a little wobbly, so Spike runs to support her. He leads her to a bench in the formal garden, her lilac wrap looking incongruous outside. She sits for a moment, breathing heavily, and then tries to explain.
"We've been under attack," she states. "Something … powerful managed to break through the wards we have to hide our true nature, and of course, you. This part of the grounds is on a ley line and allows us to siphon energy from the earth so we used that to chase back the source of the attack. It's not human, and in fact, it's nothing we've had contact with before. It's still distant, but if it is Blar…"
"Then he knows where we are," I finish, and Morwenna nods her agreement.
"So what should we do?" I ask.
"For now? I'd suggest you finish the night in the main house. When we had followed the source of the attack back, we put in force a barrier that will keep us safe at least for the hours of daylight. Sunrise won't be long now, so it should be ok. Go and get some sleep."
"And in the morning?" Spike asks.
"Well, it's up to you of course, but your safety here depended on no one knowing you were here. If you've been found, then perhaps there's somewhere else?"
"Sunnydale, I state with absolute certainty.
"Buffy, are you sure?" Spike asks.
"Yes, Spike. The Slayer doesn't run. I needed some time to recover from labour - to get my strength back, but I've done that. We've faced worse than this Blar before with only that small group to help. We'll do it again."
"But it's not just Blar, is it?" Spike argues, but I can see in his eyes that he agrees with me. It's not in his nature to run either.
"Well, there's news on that," Morwenna adds. "It didn't come in until very late, but Jenna reports that the Defenders are in disarray. I'll get the full details to you in the morning, but it seems that once your friends were able to get some information from one of them, the others decided to self destruct."
It seems an odd way to describe something, but I'm past worrying about the details.
"Or maybe they just weren't needed any more because Blar knew how to find us," Spike suggests.
"Whatever," I say. "We'll get some sleep, and in the morning we'll talk about how we're going to get back to Sunnydale."
"Yes," Spike agrees. "You're right, Buffy. We'll be stronger on home ground."
He squeezes me, and I squeeze back, glad that we're not going to argue over this.
Spike leaves me to manage Zara while he helps Morwenna into the house. Most of the residents assemble for some sort of conference, but Spike, Zara and I go up to the room we used when we first arrived. Zara is still sleeping deeply, so I leave her where she is, and Spike and I stretch out on the bed fully clothed. We both know sleep isn't going to come, so we just lie there, watching the sunrise through the window. It looks like our 'holiday' in England is over, but I make up my mind that, some day, we'll come back, and when we do it'll really be a holiday.